Professional and Student Organizations

Membership in a professional organization devoted to your specialty can help you stay abreast of important news and research. Membership in more general associations can also be incredibly valuable for networking. These groups number in the hundreds, and that doesn’t include school- or employer-based organizations.

Academic Journals

Medical research occurs at a frenetic pace, fueled by new technologies and a growing patient population. To stay ahead as a nursing professional, you need access to the latest research concerning your practice. Peer-reviewed journals, the highest level of scholarship, usually require paid subscriptions, though many do offer an initial issue free of charge. Fortunately, there are a number of open-access publications and databases.

Open Courseware

As online education grows, more schools are offering free courses to individuals seeking personal edification or skills development. Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are one option, and generally there is a decent selection of classes available. Individual schools may also offer one or two nursing or biological sciences classes free of charge.


Because onsite practica experiences are required in any formal nursing education program, individual schools manage these partnerships for their students. See our section on Scholarships and Financial Aid for more information on acquiring these positions.

Job Resources

Fortunately for nursing professionals, the job market is booming. Nearly all major medical facilities, research facilities and healthcare providers are expected to grow their nursing staff over the next decade. Nurses can use schools or professional associations to begin a job search, as well as traditional job boards.

  • NursePortal

    In addition to a job board dedicated to travel nurses, this free resource offers chat forums, links to state boards of nursing, organizational information and speciality blogs.

    • Over 1000 nursing related links and resources
    • Special section for Per Diem nursing jobs
    • Post your resume to be seen by potential employers
  • NursingWorld

    This comprehensive online resource is the ANA’s dedicated space for student nurses. Among its many features is a careers toolkit designed to help new nurses approach the dynamic employment market.

    • Collection of nursing webinars
    • Continuing education courses offered
    • Numerous support resources for nurses
  • Careers in Nursing

    A section of the website, the careers page contains job descriptions, details on nursing specialties, alternative nursing advice and a jobs board.

    • Free student eZine
    • Hosts career chats with employers
    • Community boards offer a chance to chat with other nurses
  • NSNA Career Center

    Targeted toward student nurses, resources found here include career planning guides, NCLEX preparation help, certification advice and links to openings at Magnet hospitals.

    • Offers a free ‘Welcome to the profession kit’
    • Hosts an annual career planning conference
    • Includes numerous articles on resume writing, cover letters and interview advice
  • Nursing Jobs

    Originally devoted solely to travel nursing, this resource has now expanded to include openings in permanent, travel and per diem nursing.

    • Offers a free app to stay up-to-date 24/7 on new opportunities
    • Nursing news feed
    • Nursing video series offers first-hand insight
  • Association Career Network

    This unique take on a job board links job seekers to professional nursing associations listing available positions. Participant associations are grouped by state.

    • Over 200 professional associations listed
    • More than 300,000 members
    • Browse by speciality
  • Health eCareers

    Another employment resource that can lead to employment in associations, this job board is organized by nursing specialty. Its database contains information on over 12,000 open positions across the U.S.

    • Blog contains articles on getting hired, excelling in the workplace and finding inspiration
    • Events register contains listings of healthcare conferences around the country
    • Search nursing news by speciality

Licensure and Certification

Registered nurses must maintain current state licensure to practice. As nursing students graduate, it is standard procedure to obtain licensure; a step often managed by schools. For information on each individual state, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing has provided this interactive map. Recently, the NCSBN has also facilitated a partnership called the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). Nurses may obtain this credential for simultaneous licensure in 24 states.

Certification in a specialty is a separate process from licensure. This information is covered in our section on careers in nursing.


Conferences are an excellent opportunity to network and stay current in the field. Additionally, most of them offer continuing education credits required to maintain a license. Most large and small professional organizations sponsor an annual conference, and many schools or employers will pay for all or part of your expenses to attend. See this useful interactive map illustrating dozens of nursing conferences scheduled in the U.S. in 2015.

  • ANA Conference

    Lake Buena Vista, FL | March 9–11, 2016

    Scheduled in late winter each year, this landmark professional nursing conference focuses on improving patient care via nursing best practices. Attendees are eligible for 11.5 continuing education hours.

  • Sigma Theta Tau Biennial Convention

    Las Vegas, NV | November 7-11, 2015

    This nursing honors society’s annual convention is one of the biggest conference draws in professional nursing. Usually scheduled in the fall, the agenda focuses on collaboration strategies, interprofessional success and understanding the diverse nature of global nursing.

  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners National Conference

    To Be Announced | June 2016

    Attendees can take advantage of educational workshops and seminars, a full exhibit hall, new product demonstrations and breakouts by specialty. This event is generally in the summer. Attendees can earn more than 37 hours of continuing education credit.

  • NLN Education Summit

    Las Vegas, NV | September 30 - October 2, 2015

    Focusing on nursing education, this conference hosted by the National League for Nursing delivers formal sessions, informal breakouts and keynote addresses from industry leaders. This year’s conference, held in the fall, will address innovations in technology impacting nurse educators.

  • ANCC National Magnet Conference

    Atlanta, GA | October 7-9, 2015

    The ANCC hosts one of nursing’s largest conferences; over 7,000 professionals attend this exposition on evidence-based practice and quality improvement. This event also recognizes excellence in its Magnet Recognition Programs and provides attendees with the newest best practices in nursing.